Ksenia Anske is an author of reckoning. Probably the first writer to ever be interviewed by The Huffington Post – without having published! How cool is that? She is the proud author of the brave trilogy The Siren Suicides. It’s an irreal, bizarre and sad tale of Ailen, a teen who commits suicide in order to escape her morbid home life only to transform into a siren, or rather, a vengeful mermaid upon her death. Despite her new-found existence, her problems fail to cease…
This transmission, we are interviewing Ms. Anske and are going to pick her wild brain about her writing process, her books and her coping mechanisms with life, love and happiness as an author. Let’s begin!
Hello, Ksenia! So nice to have you on Royal Manaball. We have a few questions that we and many of your fans are sure to be interested.
This is a question I must ask about the nature of Ailen. Is she undead or has she been reborn?
She is undead, kind of like a watery zombie, and she can only be killed by a very high frequency noise that will literally blow her up. It could be done two ways, either the classic old-style way (they’ve been blowing up sirens like this in the Middle Ages) by a whip, cracking it so what it produces a sonic boom, or by a special sonic gun, blasting her at close range into her chest.
Speaking of death and undeath, what does death mean to you? How instrumental of a concept does death hold for your writing?
I was very close to death when I wanted to take my life, but when I decided not to go through with suicide, I sort of felt reborn, but better than reborn, I felt like I was a clean slate, a clean piece of paper, and that I could build my life anew any way I wanted to. Because of this experience death is a very big topic in my books, I suspect, it will be in the future. I tend to have a birth and a death in every one of my novels, so it might become a recurrent theme? In any case, birth and death are two things that are part of life, so I think they have to have central place in any story. And a clock, because life is ticking away and we are closer to our end every minute . I think Chuck Palahniuk said at one of his book tours that I attended that every story needs a birth, a death, and a clock. I took this advice to heart.
Now, as we talk about life, how has your life changed since publishing The Siren Suicides? Does it feel like a rebirth for you?
It felt like a beginning of something new. I couldn’t believe I wrote a whole trilogy (still pinching myself), and because of it I feel like I can write books now. I mean, if you have written 3, then the 4th one doesn’t seem so scary, does it? I have also connected to people on a level the depth of which I couldn’t imagine. These are people I have never met, these are my readers from all over the world, from France, to Australia, to Egypt, to UK, to even Russia (yes, I am from Russia, although I write in English). These people said that they felt EXACTLY like Ailen, and they so far have sent me in the mail: postcards, checks with money, boxes of chocolate, shoes painted with an image of the siren, t-shirts with my quotes, and even flowers. I mean, my readers became my family, and I love them to pieces, and they love me too, across the boundaries of space and time! What else could one ask for?
Once a saga is complete, how does it feel for you? I mean, how do you feel in that it’s over and the main event has passed? Is there a sense of grief that you and Ailen aren’t playing together anymore, or do you feel fine putting her back in the toybox?
I feel relieved. It was very painful to go back into my own memories, extracting my feelings, and writing about them. I had to drag myself almost by the hair every day into my pain, to get it out. I felt cleansed and happy every day after writing, but to start was torture, because everything I’ve written about I have felt for real. Now that it’s over it feels like I cut it out of myself and gave to the world, leaving a hole behind that is already healing, and hopefully is helping others heal as well. So to me it’s a stage of my life that is over, but to every new reader it’s current, happening now, so when I get their feedback, I go back to my story, and think, wow, did I really feel all of this, did I really do through this Writing, like nothing else, has helped me see my own change and growth. It’s an amazing feeling, really. I recommend to everyone to write a novel, just for therapy.
In regard to my previous question, do you feel the characters of your saga are like toys or dolls and your books are the “dollhouse?” I see it this way with my YA work. No matter how grim or grotesque the plot gets, I still have fun playing with my characters and wondering what they might do next.
No, they felt real to me when writing. In general, when I write, I dive into the story fully, as if scribbling down complete scenes of a movie. I get fully submerged into it, with music, images, smells, and touch. That’s why it is hard for me to start sometimes, because to me writing is like acting, I have to get into character, only then do I produce good work. The down side of this is, of course, getting out of character, but that’s a whole another conversation.
Tell us a little about your upcoming release, Rosehead. Does this tale hold similar facets of The Siren Suicides? Is it YA?
It’s very different, on the surface. But deep underneath it has the same longing of a child to have a family, something I never had. So, on the surface, it’s YA. There are no swear words, no nudity, no sex scenes, as there are in Siren Suicides. The main character, Lilith Bloom, a twelve year old from Boston, is very polite, likes ballet, books, and handmade knit berets. Her pet whippet Panther can talk and is her only friend. They typically engage in a very sarcastic banter, imagining themselves Holmes and Watson. Lilith and Panther to Berlin, to Lilith’s gradnfather’s mansion for the family reunion. Alfred Bloom is the owner of BLOOM & CO, the company that grows and produces exclusive roses, shipping them fresh all over the world. And so, the entire book happens in the Bloom property, in the mansion and the rose garden, which eats some very strange things, as Lilith and Panther discover. They embark on an investigation of the mystery, that is both funny and bloodcurdling.
Now, I do this with all my interviewees – Word Association. I give you a word, and you tell me what comes first to your mind. Shall we?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Zombie monkey chasing me across the field.
Okay, that was painless, yes? Thank you for your time, Ms. Anske and I do appreciate your time with us. We at Royal Manaball wish you all the best of luck with The Siren Suicides Saga and Rosehead. Below are all of the relevant links to Ksenia’s work including her magnificent blog. Be sure to pick up The Siren Suicides today!